Watching the leaves change colors is a spectacular seasonal event—and a scenic drive is one of the best ways to appreciate the sights. But falling leaves and unruly weather can create hazardous driving conditions. Be prepared for what lies ahead as you set out on your journey, whether it’s across the state or around the neighborhood.
Look out for wet leaves on the road. Wet leaves can create a slippery mess. Even a single layer of wet leaves can make braking, steering, stopping and acceleration difficult, says the Car Care Council. Use extra caution: Drive slowly through patches of leaves to avoid having to brake too quickly.
Steer clear of piles of leaves. Whether they’re wet or dry, piles of leaves can obscure potholes, street markings and curbs. If they’re dry, piles of leaves can also be a fire hazard if they meet up with hot under-car components like mufflers or tailpipes, so don’t park your car on them.
Don’t forget frost. With fall comes a chance of frost, which can create slick road conditions. This is especially true on bridges and overpasses, which will turn icy faster than roads. Be prepared to encounter icy surfaces and drive accordingly.
Watch out for winter. Seasons can change quickly, turning a leaf-peeping landscape into a winter wonderland. Stay focused when driving in rain, fog, sleet or snow, and don’t follow too closely behind other drivers so that you have time to stop safely. Don’t forget to give your car a routine once-over, paying special attention to:
- Tires: They affect a vehicle’s ride, traction, handling and safety in all conditions. Check tire pressure and tread depth, inspect the tires for defects, and rotate them every 6,000 miles, says the Car Care Council.
- Brakes: Have them inspected for wear and tear at every oil change.
- Windshield wipers: Replace them every few months. You’ll be glad you have fresh blades when rain or snow starts to fall.
- Lights: Be sure all your lights are working, and check the aim of your headlights. Poorly aimed headlights reduce your visibility and can shine right in the eyes of oncoming drivers.